Album Review

K.D. Lang - Reintarnation

k.d. lang - Reintarnation

When K.D. Lang's country-punk act landed her a major-label contract in the late 1980s, it's safe to say the country music establishment never quite got the joke. "Our music was not well received in Nashville," Lang says in the Reintarnation liner notes with decided understatement. No, they certainly didn't know how to take this brash newcomer with her buzzcut hairdo and sawed-off cowboy boots who claimed, tongue wedged firmly in cheek, to be the reincarnation of Patsy Cline. That she was also an outspoken vegetarian was subversive enough; God knows what the reaction would've been had Lang been openly gay at the time (she didn't come out until 1992). In fact, the first time she played the Grand Ole Opry in 1986, commemorative matches for the event read "Mr. KD Lang." The album's liner notes seem to revise Lang's intentions, quoting her as saying, "I never thought of myself as a country singer, and I never intended on lasting more than I did." Whatever the case, Reintarnation neatly summarizes her '80s output, drawing from her indie and major-label releases. In the former category is the previously unreleased "Changed My Mind", the second song Lang co-wrote with her frequent collaborator Ben Mink (with some new overdubs), and her first single, "Friday Dance Promenade". Both are pretty straightforward in contrast to her later kitschy cowpunk style. You can hear that style emerge in the songs from her indie debut A Truly Western Experience, especially on a number like "Pine And Stew", an anguished ballad with a jokey vocal delivery, as Lang stretches out the line "Do you think I'm mental-ally anguished" to good effect. (Unfortunately, the truly bizarre "Hooked On Junk" from the same album isn't included on this collection.) Kitschy cowpunk comes fully to the fore on numbers such as "Angel With A Lariat" and the ever-rousing "Turn Me Round", an excellent choice as the album's closer. Elsewhere, the cheeky "Don't Be A Lemming Polka" and the atmospheric "Curious Soul Astray" prove something was salvageable from the wreckage that was the dreadful film version of Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, and you get hints of Lang's future direction as a crooner on "Diet Of Strange Places". Lang might've felt like a square peg in the realm of traditional country, but that doesn't mean she didn't have a heck of a lot of fun with it.
Artist k.d. lang
Album Reintarnation
Label Rhino
Author Gillian G Gaar
Other tags Issue #63